Sunday, August 16, 2009

Using Computer Aided Manufacturing To Make Titanium Frames

Ever since the start of this month, Lynskey Performance Bicycles based in Chattanooga, TN has been quietly uploading videos of their manufacturing processes to the internet. As you know, Lynskey is the founder of the brand "Litespeed" which goes back a long ways. If I'm not wrong, it is now owned by another TN based company, American Bicycle Group (ABG) which makes the featherweight Ghisallo frame (weighs about 1.7 pounds). Did you know that apparently, even NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab buys tubing from ABG? I didn't want to shift topics, but something like that really speaks for the quality of titanium tubing these companies deal with.

Now in the past, I have showcased some history of the machining technology David Lynskey used in his Litespeed facility on this blog, so click here to read that article if you haven't. Today, Lynskey works with U.S. milled aerospace grade 6AL-4V and 3AL-2.5V titanium and each bike is handcrafted to customer's needs using some special technology.

After some interesting hunting, I learnt that two new Mazak machining centers (CNC milling machines) were installed at the Lynskey facility. One is a Quick Turn Nexus 200-II and the other is a Vertical Center Nexus 510C-II. These babies are "the Cadillacs of CNC machines". These options will give them design and manufacturing flexibility, productivity and time savings.

In the following sample video, we can see the 5-axis tool path in creating a fork dropout and a headtube badge. This is actually created in CAD/CAM which generates the NC machine code, which is then fed to the Mazak machine via Ethernet cable. The machine now knows "what to machine" and "how to machine" it. This is one episode in a series of videos called "How We Make A Lynskey". I encourage Lynskey to go ahead and keep showing normal customers what role these machines and tools play in the big scheme of things. There is great value in not only purchasing and riding a certain variety of bikes but also learning how they're made.


Technology Helps Bike Builder Pick Up Speed
CAD/CAM Basics
Introduction To Machining
Ch 20 : Machine Controls from Tool And Manufacturing Engineer's Handbook
CAD/CAM Process Planning : A PDF Presentation from MIT
Can A Titanium Frame Be Reused After Fire Abuse? An Analysis

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Chris Valva said...

Lynskey makes some marvelous bikes. I've been riding a Litespeed since 98. Love them!

James said...

As most people here probably know, using CNC machines & MasterCam is no longer cutting edge technology. For example many factories in Eastern Europe making wooden furniture use CNC machines.

Lynnskey is rather overselling itself here, but it IS interesting to see how they use the equipment, and further clips will be interesting too.

moko said...